ACT Calls For Full Story On Foreshore Tests

Sunday, February 20, 2011

ACT Deputy Leader John Boscawen today supported some of the concerns of National Party supporter Jim Matson – printed in today’s ‘Sunday Star-Times’ – and called on Prime Minister John Key and his Government to tell the full story on the tests that are included in the proposed Marine and Coastal Area (Takutai Moana) Bill.


“In response to Mr Matson’s letter, Prime Minister John Key says that a test of continuous and exclusive use and occupation of an area since 1840 is not easy to meet.  He is absolutely right – but this is not actually the test,” Mr Boscawen said.


“In reality, additional caveats weaken the test and ensure that the area able to be claimed is greater.  Firstly, the requirement of continuous and exclusive use and occupation since 1840 is subject to the proviso that use and occupation will be deemed ‘continuous and exclusive’, provided that any interruption is not ’substantial’.  No one knows what ’substantial’ means in this context, which will only lead to uncertainty and dispute.


“Further, to claim the Bill builds on the Ngati Apa test and builds on Australian and Canadian common law ignores the fact that no Commonwealth court has granted customary title over seabed.  The Government is legislating where no court has gone before.


“Mr Key also says that the Bill guarantees free public access to the common marine and coastal area – but he doesn’t point out that iwi will be able to designate areas as being wahi tapu prior to lodging a claim, and then exclude others from these areas.  The Bill even provides an enforcement regime.  It is therefore impossible to guarantee anything.


“He then says the Bill will be changed to ensure that any negotiated agreements are subject to full public and Parliamentary scrutiny.  What he didn’t explain is why the National and Maori Party representatives on the Maori Affairs Select Committee voted to report the Bill back to Parliament without alteration.


“This was a major abuse of Parliamentary process and ignored the submissions of over 4,000 individuals and groups.  Members of Parliament have been waiting since October to see the wording of the provision to guarantee free access.  We are still waiting.


“ACT believes the Bill is divisive.  It will deny rights to some iwi and hapu, and grant them to others who do not have them.  We urge the Government to withdraw the Bill,” Mr Boscawen said.